Everything you need to know before moving to the US from Europe
Here’s everything you need to know before you move to the US from Europe.
You’re not the first person looking to move to the US from Europe. Luckily, it has never been easier to change continents! In fact, thousands of people move to the US from Europe every month. Now that pandemic travel restrictions are easing, people are saying yes to the spirit of adventure. As you research your move, you will run into many questions that need answers. The first question is the most fun: where do you want to live? With 50 states plus the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and Washington, DC, the possibilities are virtually unlimited.
If you are a European moving to the US, there are some things you will want to consider before you buy your plane ticket. For example, you will need to figure out what kind of visa you should get – if any! – as well as your budget for housing in the US compared to back home. It’s also important to think about the biggest differences between the United States and Europe. Here’s a look at everything you need to know before you move to the US from Europe – or at least start thinking about it. In addition to information about housing, visas, and cost, we have answers to some of your biggest relocation questions.
How much does it cost to move to the US from Europe?
Unfortunately, it can be quite expensive to move to the US from Europe. In addition to the cost of shipping your belongings, applying for visas, and international travel, you may find that the cost of living in the US is higher than you expected. Obviously, whether your monthly expenses are high or low for your salary will be relative to where you are living now. That said, be prepared for sticker shock.
Many people avoid the expense of transporting their furniture overseas or buying all new furniture after they move to the US by living in furnished apartments instead of signing a year-long lease. Here are the costs you need to consider before you move to the US from Europe.
It isn’t cheap to move your furniture and other possessions across the ocean. The moving expenses involved in moving to the US from Europe can add up fast! According to Moving.com, many people choose to move their furniture and household items via sea freight because it is much cheaper than air freight. You can find an overseas moving company and arrange to have an appropriate-sized container for your belongings delivered to your current address. Pricing will be based on the size of container you need as well as whether it is completely or partially full. No matter where you live now, there are likely a number of companies that specialize in moving to the US from Europe. Be sure to get several quotes before you settle on one. This cost is even higher if you plan to ship your vehicle as well, which can cost anywhere from $700 to $4,000 according to My Moving Reviews. You will also need to register your vehicle in your new state and pay customs duty as well.
Visa application costs
Depending on what type of visa you choose, you can expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. If you will be applying for a student visa, you will also need to pay application fees to every college or university where you apply. We have covered the types of visas available for people who want to live in the US. You may also be interested in our roundup of visa resources for digital nomads. Although visa costs won’t break the bank, they must be paid upfront. Be sure that you set aside enough money for these fees in addition to any down payment you will need for a new apartment and the money you will use to move from Europe to the US.
Rent, utilities, and transportation
As you might expect for the “richest country in the world,” it can be very expensive to live in the US. This cost of living data from Statista is a great way to get a sense of how much it costs to live comfortably in the biggest cities. If you’re moving to the US from Europe, you may need to seek out second-tier cities instead of big cities like New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. You could also choose to live with a roommate or save money by choosing a short-term furnished apartment instead of committing to a yearlong lease.
In addition to figuring out how much rent you can afford to pay, use a cost of living estimator to track the costs of utilities like Internet, mobile coverage, and electricity in the US city of your choice. You will also want to calculate the cost of transportation, especially if you plan to live outside of a city like Los Angeles or Chicago, where there is a robust public transportation network but some places are only car friendly. A final thing to consider as you draw up your budget before you move to the US from Europe is the cost of health care.
One of the trickiest aspects of your move to the US from Europe will be finding affordable healthcare coverage. Depending on how long you will live in the US, you may be covered by traveler’s insurance. For shorter stays, this can be an excellent alternative to trying to navigate the complicated US insurance system.
If you will need health insurance after your move, your best bet is to get this insurance through your employer. Employer-provided insurance is usually more comprehensive and affordable than a la carte private insurance in the US.
How can I find a place to live when I move to the US from Europe?
It has never been easier to find a new home, thanks to the internet and social media. For a long time, the only way to find a new apartment was to view local newspaper classified ads. It’s pretty hard to do that from overseas when you want to move to the US from Europe. Using websites like Apartments.com and Craigslist lets you get a sense of pricing and availability in the US city of your choice from the comfort of your current home. You can set a budget – or a range – and then use filters to customize your search even further. As you plan your move to the US from Europe, these sites will also help you select neighborhoods within a city – as well as features like gyms or pools.
Of course, before you even begin your search, you should draw up a budget. Ideally, you would set your budget even sooner, using the tips we offered above. Be sure to save some room in your budget for furniture and decorations, not to mention food and entertainment! (If you rent a furnished apartment it will save the trouble and expense of purchasing your own furniture and decorations.)
How can I make money after I move to the US from Europe?
If you already have a job offer lined up, you can ignore this section! But if you will need to pay your own way after you move to the US from Europe, you may need to get a visa. Many European citizens can live in the US as tourists for up to 180 days at a time. Here are some ways you can get a visa to live (and work!) in the United States.
1. Get a student visa
Obtaining a student visa is an ideal way to move to the US from Europe. Of course, you will need to get accepted to a US-based educational institute first! This list of approved schools is a great place to start browsing for the college or university of your dreams. Of course, taking this approach requires a lot of lead time. Generally, US colleges and universities admit students in the spring to start school in the fall semester. If you want to move to the US from Europe on a student visa, it’s best to plan at least one to two years in advance.
2. Get a work visa
Generally speaking, you will need a US employer to sponsor your visa if you want to work in the US long-term. However, there are a number of temporary visas that are worth a look at. For example, if you want to do medical or volunteer work in the US, you may be able to get a short-term visa. If none of these circumstances apply to you, there’s still the option of applying to US-based jobs and hoping the employer will agree to sponsor your visa.
3. Get an investor visa
If you are very wealthy or have an established company, you can also get an investor visa. Unfortunately, the minimum investment to qualify is $1,000,000. There is an exception to this rule, however! If you are starting your business in a high-unemployment or rural area (also known as a targeted employment area) you can invest as little as $500,000. This type of visa also requires quite a bit of lead time and paperwork, even with the financial means to qualify.
4. Get a visitor visa
Many people who move to the US from Europe without a job lined up rely on a visitor visa. This visa, also referred to as a B-2 visa, lets many European citizens stay in the US for up to 180 days at a time. This is plenty of time to explore a new city!
Even better, you can leave for a short while and then return on a new B-2 visa to further enjoy everything there is to do and see.
Tip: If you are a European moving to the US on a visitor visa, you really shouldn’t sign a year-long lease!
Putting it all together
Now that you have answers to your biggest questions about how to move to the US from Europe you’re ready to buy your plane ticket! We have covered the cost of living in the US, how to find short-term housing, and the different types of visa you can get as a European moving to the US.
Congratulations, you have everything you need to plan your next move. We’re a bit biased, but we still think choosing a furnished apartment instead of committing to a yearlong lease is the easiest way to live in the US if you are coming from overseas. Moving to the US from Europe is simple if you do your research and stay organized. Just be sure to plan ahead and stick to your budget!